When the weekend comes, sometimes my wife and I feel like we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out, “What are we going to do today?” When you have four kids as we do and the weekend arrives, the goal is to get everyone out of the house and doing something fun, or at least doing something to keep your kids occupied long enough for you to have a break. You would think that by living in central Florida, this would be easy since it is known for its many attractions. Unfortunately, not all Floridians can afford some of the overpriced theme parks Central Florida is known for. Sure, you could take your kids to some of the local parks, but good luck with that on those hot, sunny, and humid days. The Florida heat can be treacherous and not all local parks have a water section like a splash pad for the kids to cool off in. So, what else can you do?
My family has found the Orlando Science Center to be a huge answer to this question because it’s great for all ages, it's air-conditioned, so you can breathe a little easier on those hot Florida days knowing that you and your family won’t be walking around or doing activities in the heat, and it's a lot more cost-effective than the Theme Parks or some of the other attractions. The Orlando Science Center is open from 10am - 5pm on weekdays and weekends. The Science Center does offer different annual membership packages and general admission for adults is $21 and for youth 2-11, it’s $15. Children 2 and under are free. Military and first responders receive discounts on their admission along with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) or WIC cardholders (please check the Science Center website for the most updated pricing).
When it comes to things to do there, there are four floors in the center your kids and family have access to. On the first floor, you can find the reptile and insect exhibit where you get to experience up close and personal (well behind some glass) some of the lizards, snakes, and other animals Florida has as well as a few exotic creatures from other parts of the world. My kids love spending time digging for fossils in the Dino exhibit located on the fourth floor. On the other side of this exhibit are a Planet and Atmospheric exhibit where you can experience what it feels like to stand in the middle of a hurricane. On the second floor where the main entrance is, there is normally a featured themed exhibit there every few months. One time I took my kids, it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and most recently they were doing Science Fiction, Science Future featuring exhibits that explored teleportation, holograms, mind control, and invisibility. My kids look forward to these kinds of featured exhibits and are never disappointed.
The Science Center is not all about just exhibits. There are also areas where your kids can experience some free play while still learning like in KidsTown, the Science Center’s 11,000 sqft play area for kids ages 0-7. This area offers a lot of skill-based activities such as the Orange Grove experience where kids play and learn how oranges travel from tree to table. In the Drip Drop Splash, kids learn about cause and effect while having fun with water. They get to use water and various props for tools as they experiment with physics, material science, fluid dynamics, and engineering as they test and develop their ideas about the way water moves. Right next to this is the KidsTown studios for the artistically creative kids who like to build and create things from nothing. For your high-energy kids like my 7-old-year-son, the Issacs Family ClimbTime is like the perfect obstacle course/playground for him and his other siblings to burn off some energy. For toddler children, age 2-years and younger, parents can take them to toddler town, where they have their own little designated play area.
The final great and awesome feature about the Orlando Science Center is its two theaters that they play movies and documentaries in. The first one is the Dr. Phillips CineDome. This is not your regular movie theater. When you’re sitting in it, you literally feel like you’re sitting in a dome as the movie is projected onto an 8,000 square-foot screen from a projector’s fish-eye lens, creating a 180-degree image that surrounds the audience and extends beyond their peripheral vision. The second theater is the Digital Adventure Theater where they show movies in 2D and 3D (3D glasses provided). I have been taking my kids to the Orlando Science Center for a few years now and for them, it never gets old. It's a great environment for your kids to learn and have fun in all at the same time. It's also a great alternative on a rainy day!